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Bright-eyed.

Fun-filled.

Always smiling.

These are just three of the personality traits Ronald M. Tressler Sr., of Bel Air, used to describe his son.

On July 17, Roland M. Tressler Jr., 29, a 1997 graduate of Fallston High School, died in Baghdad, Iraq.

“He died doing what he loved to do,” Tressler Sr. said. “And he just loved people and saved a lot of people while he was in Iraq.”

According to Tressler Sr., his son was killed during a training exercise accident while working for Blackwater Worldwide, which is now named Xe.

“He was not in the military at the time he died,” Tressler Sr. said. “He was working for Blackwater, which was contracted through the State Department and provided security for State Department officials and other dignitaries who would come in and out of Iraq.”

Shortly after graduating from high school, Mr. Tressler Jr. joined the Marine Corps and eventually became a sergeant. He had served on active duty in Iraq.

“In January ‘98, he joined,” Tressler Sr. said. “It was obviously something he wanted to do and did.”

Pete Klemans, of Bel Air, met Mr. Tressler Jr. and his father through the Hickory Rec Council youth soccer team in the early ‘90s.

“When he was younger, he didn’t strike me as being the most self-confident of kids,” Klemans said of Mr. Tressler Jr. “He was kind of a smallish kid, not a big boy.”

But several years later, Mr. Tressler Jr. had grown up.

“He enrolled in the Marines and it was kind of a shock to us,” Klemans said. “My recollection of Roland, when he was younger, he was one of the last kids I’d expected to be cut out for Marine Corps.”

After boot camp, Klemans said Mr. Tressler Jr. had matured.

“Roland had become a strapping young man,” Klemans said. “He grew vertically quite a bit and certainly filled out a bit.”

Klemans also said Mr. Tressler Jr. “had a lot of determination.”

“He was extremely courteous, a very pleasant young guy,” Klemans said. “He obviously loved what he did. I think he kind of lived his life to the fullest. I will say he is probably braver than any young man I’ve ever known.”

Mr. Tressler Jr. served almost six years in the Marine Corps before he was discharged in September 2003.

Following his discharge, Mr. Tressler Jr. worked for DynCorp International, a U.S.-based private military contractor, as part of the president’s personal security force. But when DynCorp lost its contract, Mr. Tressler Jr. took a hiatus and later went to work for Blackwater, his father said.

Tressler Sr. admitted he was nervous about his son’s return to Iraq, but said “he’s a grown man.”

“That was what he loved doing and I’m sure a part of it, too, was it was financially a great thing to do,” Tressler Sr. said.

When he wasn’t busy serving his country, one of Mr. Tressler Jr.’s favorite places to visit was Thailand.

“It had beautiful beaches and it’s green,” Tressler Sr. said. “It was the complete opposite of being in the sand and dust and heat of the Middle East.”

Tressler Sr. said his son’s hobbies and interests included soccer, lacrosse and scuba diving.

While news of Mr. Tressler Jr.’s death came as a shock to Klemans, it was not entirely unexpected.

“I was shocked and not shocked,” Klemans said. “We knew what he was doing was dangerous ... It’s still a bit of a shock to the system when you hear it, but you recognize the nature of the work he undertook.”

Tressler Sr. said there was an “outpouring of people” at his son’s funeral last Wednesday at Schimunek Funeral Home in Bel Air.

“There were people who came in from all over the country and all over the world,” Tressler Sr. said. “His good friend from Thailand came in and, needless to say, it was a very impressive motorcade that was provided from Schimunek to Garrison Forest [Veterans Cemetery in Owings Mills]. There must’ve been 18 to 21 motorcycles and police officers.”

Most importantly, Klemans said his son should be remembered for his patriotism.

“He was very patriotic. He loved his country,” Klemans said. “He was more concerned with the welfare of everyone else over his own welfare. Everyone was more important to him than he was to himself and he took what he did very, very seriously ... We lost a very fine member of the community.”

Mr. Tressler Jr. is survived by his father, his mother, Susan Tressler, his brother, Kurt Tressler, his sister, Candice Tressler, and three aunts and two uncles.


user comments (1)


user murfeezlaw33 says...

Roland and I went to our Senior Prom together. He was such a sweet person and a very good friend. We lost touch after high school and moved on with our lives as everyone does. I am happy to see that he was doing something he loved! My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.


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